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LETTER: Challenging the ‘ancient land of Israel' idea

January 12th, 2019 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – Barry Shaw referred me to the bible and history as sources, not to justify Palestinian displacements (both Muslim and Christian) and illegal settlements for Jews only but, to justify an ever-expanding colonialist Israel.

Most Biblical scholars consider Israel of the Bible to be a spiritual Israel and not a physical one, as used by Zionists to justify forced expulsions and settlements. Christian theologians also argue that the ‘promised land’ was conditional on a covenant which they maintain was broken by the Jews.

Interestingly, as Israel along with the rest of the world has become increasingly secular, biblical claims of a divine right to a ‘promised land’ based on race or religious entitlement are rarely used these days and appear out of kilter with the revisionist belief in a God not for Jews alone but for Gentiles, for Israelis as well as Palestinians.

The ‘ancient land of Israel’ idea is challengeable on many counts. HG Wells wrote: ‘If it is proper to “reconstitute” a Jewish state which has not existed for two thousand years, why not go back another thousand years and reconstitute the Canaanite state? The Canaanites, unlike the Jews, never left.’

If we were going to admit claims on conquest thousands of years ago, the whole world would have to be turned upside down. It should also be remembered that early Zionists seriously attempted to gather support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Uganda, Kenya etc.

Zionists need to think of the Palestinians as neighbours and people sharing this good earth.

Ten years ago, Israel carpet bombing began at 11.25am and, by the end of the day, Israel had dropped 100 tons of bombs on a population that has no military force, no tanks, no defences and nowhere to go. This culture was developed by PM David Ben Gurion, who in 1937 said: ‘We must expel Arabs and take their places.’

From any moral or logical viewpoint, such a situation cannot be justified and the most relevant biblical message would be one of ‘love thy neighbour’. Chaim Weizmann, the first president of the state of Israel famously said that it is by its treatment of the Palestinians that his country will be judged. Instead, hundreds of protesters have been shot dead and thousands more injured while the world looks on.

Two Israeli academics, Ilan Pappé and Ari Shavit, agree that the military occupation, relentless expansion of illegal settlements, divisive ‘security barriers,’ demolitions of Palestinian houses, flagrant violations of international law, systematic abuse of Palestinian human rights and rampant racism – all are slowly but surely turning Israel into an international pariah. 

The Frances Black bill to control trade with occupied territories when passed by the Dail will demonstrate that Ireland at least is not sitting idly by.

Bob Storey, 

Skibbereen. 

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